PSNI to appeal against decision on back-dated holiday pay

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is to appeal against a court ruling over the backdating of revised holiday pay rates for police staff.

Rule changes introduced a number of years ago mean that regular overtime worked by civil servants, and other additional payments accrued on top of their basic salary, should be factored in when setting their holiday pay rate.

Last month, the Court of Appeal ruled that PSNI staff were entitled to retrospectively apply the amended rates going back 20 years.

Northern Ireland Policing Board meeting
Former PSNI chief constable Sir George Hamilton (Liam McBurney/PA)

Lawyers estimate the judgment could cost the police £40 million, and potentially pave the way for similar back payment claims worth hundreds of millions of pounds across the public and private sector in Northern Ireland.

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said he would appeal against the decision, which has taken by the Court of Appeal in Belfast, to the Supreme Court.

“There are significant repercussions right across the public sector on the Court of Appeal’s finding, therefore I have concluded that it is important to seek further judicial clarity and I have instructed the PSNI legal representatives to submit an appeal to the Supreme Court,” he said.

A cap limiting the retrospective claim-back period in the rest of the UK was not replicated by the last Stormont administration.

Last month, former chief constable Sir George Hamilton, who recently retired, said he considered the 20-year timeframe unreasonable.

He suggested an appeal would focus on the technical aspects of the ruling – such as the length of the timeframe and how the amended holiday pay rates are calculated.

He conceded the PSNI would be facing some sort of pay-out, but questioned the accuracy of the £40 million figure quoted.

Sir George warned that a potential bill of hundreds of millions for backdated holiday pay would have massive repercussions for Northern Ireland’s public services.

He said there was not a “bottomless pit” to fund the pay-out, and there would be a “negative impact” on service delivery.

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